Elon Musk’s innovative brain-chip venture, Neuralink, announced on Tuesday that it has secured approval from an independent review board to commence its inaugural human trial. This trial aims to test the brain implant’s efficacy for individuals suffering from paralysis.
- Neuralink gets approval to initiate recruitment for its first human trial targeting paralysis patients.
- The trial will cater to those affected by cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- The study’s duration is projected to be six years, though the number of participants remains undisclosed.
- The procedure involves a robot surgically placing a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant.
- The primary objective is to empower individuals to control computer peripherals using mere thoughts.
- Initial plans to implant the device in 10 patients were revised after the US FDA expressed safety concerns.
- Musk envisions Neuralink addressing a range of conditions, from obesity and autism to depression.
- Despite FDA clearance in May, the company faced scrutiny over its animal testing procedures.
- Experts suggest that even if deemed safe, commercial clearance might take over a decade.
Neuralink’s trial will focus on individuals who have experienced paralysis due to cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The specifics regarding the number of participants remain under wraps.
The procedure will involve the use of a robot to surgically implant a brain-computer interface in the brain area responsible for movement intentions. The company’s preliminary aim is to allow individuals to control computer devices, such as cursors or keyboards, solely through their thoughts.
While Neuralink had initially aspired to gain approval for implanting its device in 10 patients, it had to renegotiate this number with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns raised by the agency. The final approved number of patients is yet to be disclosed.
Musk’s vision for Neuralink is expansive. He believes that the technology could potentially address a myriad of conditions, including obesity, autism, depression, and even schizophrenia. However, despite receiving FDA clearance for its first human trial in May, the company had previously faced federal scrutiny over its approach to animal testing.
Industry experts opine that even if the BCI device is deemed safe for human application, the journey to secure commercial clearance might span well over a decade.